Families come in all shapes, sizes and forms. A growing trend is the blended family. A blended family is also commonly known as a "stepfamily". In today's society, approximately one third of all families are blended. This is because many partners find a new-found love and remarry after their first marriage was found to be unsuccesful.
Although the majority of blended families do not experience any major set-backs, some do. Blending a family can be a difficult task and sometimes one member of the family feels left out, hurt and abandoned.
Most importantly, take time to realize and understand that divorce, death and a new marriage can be stressful for parents and children. Children may not understand why their parents are separating and marrying someone else. Give your child extra attention, love and support during this time.
Finding out that your spouse has children from a previous relationship may be difficult. Get to know your partner's children and try not to set expectations that may be unrealistic. Do not expect the child to immediately love and trust you. This will take some time. Realize that the child may not think of you as a parent right away. It is common to hear "You are not my mommy." or "I don't have to listen to you." As a step-parent, it is importnat to discuss how discipline will be handled. Will the step-parent have just as much say as the biological parent? Researchers believe that the biological parent should continue to be the primary disciplinarian, especially in the beginning of the relationship. If there are children from both parents, there should be one set of household rules for everyone to follow. Otherwise, the children may begin to resent each other.
The ages of the children involved can play a major factor in how easy it will be to adapt to a new life. Children under the age of 8 and over the age of 15 usually accept the changes the easiest. Teenagers can understand what is going on and are usually interested in their own life at this point. Young children are interested in forming strong family bonds and enjoy the new friendship that a stepparent can bring. Children between the ages of 9 and 14 usually have a harder time accepting the changes that come with a blended family. At this age, children are more sensitive and may feel very betrayed by their biological parents.
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